What to do if your dog is injured in an accident


In the event your dog is seriously injured, your prompt action could save its life.

First assess the situation!:
You may need to move the dog if it is still at risk, making sure you do not put yourself in danger.Restrain your dog, and check its heart and breathing: if these vital systems have failed, you will need to perform artificial respiration or heart massage.

Check carefully for signs of shock. If all of these systems are in order, arrange for care for physical injuries such as lacerations or broken bones. Always have an injured dog examined as soon as possible by a vet: a dog may appear normal after an accident but may have potentially life-threatening internal injuries.

In the event of an accident, follow these simple guidelines:

Calmly approach the dog.

  1. Talk to it reassuringly and avoid intimidating eye contact. Watch how it responds to you, and check its expression to determine how much pain your dog is in and how frightened it is.
  2. Stroke the relaxed dog under its chin, and then slip a lead around its neck. If a dog lead is not available, improvise with a tie or belt looped over the dog’s neck.
  3. If the dog is large, wrap your arm as far as possible around the neck, leaving your other hand free to examine the dog. With small dogs, gently but firmly grip the muzzle. Apply a little pressure against the dog’s body with the elbow of your free hand while you carry out your examination.
  4. An injured dog is likely to be frightened and irrritable. To prevent injuries to yourself and others in attendance, it is advisable to apply a muzzle. A simple muzzle can be improvised at the scene of the accident from a length of gauze or other strong material. Do not muzzle a dog that is having difficulty breathing.

Monitor breathing
Check that an injured dog is breathing by watching for the movement of its chest. If the dog has stopped breathing, artificial respiration should be performed immediately. Monitor the breathing of an injured dog until it can be seen by a vet – an increased rate can indicate pain, shock, or lung and heart problems. Dogs will normally breathe in and out between 20 and 30 times per minute, but this varies between breeds. When assessing your dog, it is important to distinguish between breathing and panting. Panting � the natural way for your dog to eliminate excess heat � will increase with exercise, anxiety, and pain. To ensure that you monitor breathing rather than panting, watch the rise and fall of your dog’s chest.

Check heart rate
A dog’s normal heart rate can vary from 50 beats per minute in large breeds, to 160 beats per minute in small individuals, and up to 200 times a minute in a puppy. If your dog has been involved in an accident, monitor its heart rate carefully – an increased rate could indicate fever, pain, heart conditions, or the first stages of shock. If a dog is unconscious, determine if the heart is beating,if it is not, your immediate priority is CPR. If it is, monitor the rate: on a large dog, press the fingers of your hand firmly against the left side of the chest just behind the elbow. On smaller dogs, grasp the chest on both sides, just behind the elbows, and squeeze gently until you feel heartbeats. This may be difficult to do on fat dogs. Alternatively, feel for a pulse by placing your fingers inside the hind leg where it meets the groin; a large artery passes this point close to the surface of the skin.

Clear the airway
If an injured dog is unconscious but breathing, straighten its neck, open its mouth to remove any debris, and gently pull the tongue forward. This is most important in breeds with flat faces, in which the tongue can obstruct the dog’s breathing.

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